Thursday, December 29, 2016

Chocolate, Tea, and Coffee at the Detroit Institute of Arts

"From Novelty to Necessity: This exhibit takes you back 400 years to the time when COFFEE, TEA, and CHOCOLATE were first introduced in Europe." So reads a poster as you enter a fantastic art exhibit currently at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

"Bitter|Sweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate" offers excitement to all five senses, not just the usual museum-goers' activity of seeing art. As we toured the exhibit today, we looked at maps and historic information. We viewed a wide variety of paintings, prints, artifacts, and tableware related to the three beverages. We smelled some coffee beans in one display. We listened to the background music: Bach's Coffee Cantata. And in the final gallery we enjoyed tasting some historic chocolate concoctions. 

Using my camera, the kind ticket-taker who admitted us to the exhibit even photographed us with our friends Elaine and Bob. On the gallery wall was a sign that said photography was not only permitted, it was encouraged. So...

Large blow-up posters of early illustrations showed historic coffee drinking events.
Smelling and seeing coffee beans.
"Madame de Pompadour as a Sultana," by Carle Van Loo, 1755. Two women with different levels of power
each have their hands on a cup of coffee, which was a new luxury product associated with the Turkish Empire.
"On the left, an African woman serving coffee is a reminder of two colonial commodities: coffee and enslaved people."
The exhibit had quite a few things to say about the role of slavery and colonialism in the rise of the three beverages.

A coffee grinder that once belonged to Madame de Pompadour.
A porcelain sultan riding an elephant, and a little Turkish coffee cup.
A bust of Joseph Addison whose newspaper, I learned, was one of the influences
encouraging English people to consume coffee.
"The Strong Family," (1732, detail showing tea table)
The exhibit included several wall-sized maps.
An amazing Sèvres tea and coffee service (1842-43)
Samples of chocolate from early recipes.
Outside the DIA cafe where we were about to have lunch: chocolate Christmas decorations.


Beth F said...

What a great exhibit! I love all things bitter.

Johanna GGG said...

What an amazing exhibition - would love it to come our way! I love that they encouraged photography and that you could taste historic chocolate creations. And that chocolate Christmas tree is all my dreams come true - looks marvellous